Category: Element Global
Created on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 17:35
Written by Element Christian Church
During Sunday's Mother's Day
message, we played the following 5 videos. Thank you Moms!
Question One: "What was the Craziest Thing Your Children Have Done?"
Question Two: "How have you disciplined your children?"
Question Three: "If nothing else, what would you like your children to know?"
Question Four: "How have you failed as a parent?"
Question Five: "Are you a parent or a friend to your children?"
Category: By Aaron
Created on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 09:31
Written by Aaron
We have been doing our What in the World Part 2
series on Sunday mornings, where we are answering your questions about certain things in the Bible. There were some questions you asked that were not long enough to make a whole sermon out of, so we are answering them, calling them “shorts,” and posting them to our blog. This is the next “What in the World?” question we received: John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” What in the World?
First off, it is always a good rule to read the Bible in context, so let’s take a step back and see what comes right before John 14:12. Before the verse in question, Jesus talks about us having trouble in the world, going to be with Him, and Jesus Himself being the only way to salvation. Jesus then says the following, starting in John 14:10-11: “Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves
Jesus says there are 3 things we must see if you want to realize who He is: What are His words (
What did Jesus teach and instruct…What are Jesus’ works
(How did He live)…and What are His miracles
(What evidence is there of God’s works and miracles in Christ).
So, His words, work, and His miracles…that’s how we investigate Jesus.
Then Jesus gets to the verse in question:… “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.”
These verses are ones that have been widely abused in our day, but what does Jesus actually
say His followers will do? Words, works, and miracles.
So, what did Jesus do? Taught, loved, fed, and helped others. The word “Christian” was once a way for people to make fun of followers of Jesus (like “Jesus freak”); they would say, “Oh, you think you are a little Christ.”
Christians took the saying and said, “Well, yes, I am trying to show Jesus’ work, words, and miracles to the world,” and decided to take upon themselves the moniker “Christian.” When Jesus says, “Greater works than these will he do,”
He was not saying that people will be greater than Him. He was saying that we, as a body of redeemed people, will do more, in terms of scope, than He did.
It means that Jesus, in his incarnation, humbled Himself and could only be at one place at one time, but after the resurrection, the Spirit
of God was poured out on the children
of God. This means the multitude
of what we collectively do can be greater (not the magnitude). We have more hands, feet, lives, and tongues, and can do the things He was doing but with greater multitude. We have the great honor of being invited into His continuing work in the world, which brings about the miracle of new life and redemption.
Some people have wrongly taught we are to be greater than Jesus, like Jesus was JV and we are varsity. We are not greater than Jesus. No one
is greater than Jesus. We will not meet Jesus face to face and say, “You lived, died, rose from the grave, atoned for sin, and reconciled the world to God the Father, but you’re not better than me.” It is why Jesus continues from there (to more verses that are widely misunderstood) and says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Jesus is not saying that God is a piñata and we get to whack Him with this thing called “faith” to get all the things we want. He is teaching that God will answer prayers, but in context of what He has been speaking about—mission. So, what types of prayers does Jesus answer in context of the verses? Those that glorify the Father. Prayers that glorify the Father are a far cry from the types of prayers we normally pray. Most of our prayers are about self-glorification (make me wealthy, make me tall, make me thin, make me smart, make me good-looking, etc.). Jesus says, “If you want to pray, pray for things that honor God. Make it about His glory, honor, and hope in the world.”
In all, the answer to the question is that we will do greater works in terms of multitude…but WHY will we do greater works? Jesus said, “…because I am going to the Father.” Because Jesus ascended to the Father, we have hope. We get to speak Jesus’ words, do Jesus’ works, and in the end, see the great miracle of restoration and redemption. This is what we should be praying for, that God would use us for His glory and the world’s joy.
Category: By Aaron
Created on Tuesday, 02 May 2017 13:50
Written by Aaron
At Element we are doing a series on Sunday mornings where we answer your questions that you gave to us last year in a series titled “What in the World Part I. Some of these questions are too short for whole sermon, plus we only have so many weeks for the current series, which means we are going to answer some of those questions in our blogs.
Today’s question is as follows, “Mark 8:14-21 – I am like the Disciples, after reading it in context I still don’t understand
.” The answer will be short, so let me actually post the entire section the question pertains to (Mark 8):
14The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15“Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
16They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
17Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
20“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
21He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
I like the question, because it is so honest, “I am like the Disciples, after reading it in context I still don’t understand
Simply put, rabbis’ would use anything thing they could find to teach their disciples about living the truth of God out in their daily lives. They would teach them to see the world as God saw the world. On this occasion the disciples are worried about how much food they have on their journey, because they were forgetful and didn’t bring enough. Jesus says to them, trying to relate it all together, to beware of the “yeast of Pharisees” and “Herod.”
The disciples scratch their heads and are like, “Is this because we have no bread? We should go and get more.” They failed to see that Jesus was taking a normal, every day thing, to teach them a deeper truth. While Jesus was teaching them this truth, they were stuck on what was in front of them and not on the “bigger picture” of what was going on in the world around them. So Jesus then, quite plainly, points out that bread, for Him, is not a problem (obviously, because He fed 5000 and 4000 people respectively, with almost no bread at all).
In Matthew 6:25 Jesus tells His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing
?” Yes, things are important, but they should not distract is from God’s ultimate working in the world around us. Too often we get fixated on our needs AND wants and we stop seeing what God sees.
Herod was the ruler over the area where Jesus and His disciples had their ministry. The Pharisees were the most popular group among the common people of Jesus’ day. But they had both failed to see their place in how God’s kingdom was to function in the world. The “rulers” and the “popular” were people that everyone admired and wanted to be like, but they were nothing like God in character; in fact they usually pulled people’s vision away
from God rather than to Him.
The yeast that Jesus speaks of is that influence. When you put more stock into the Pharisees and Herod than you do in God’s call in your life, it will work through all the dough (your life) and bring about a ruined product.
Think of others in our world who seek power (that’s Herod’s yeast), popularity (that’s Herod’s and the Pharisees’ yeast), or a certain brand of morality, whether it’s conservative values or liberal values (that’s the Pharisees’ yeast). Now, think of yourself and where any of those things have overtaken what God calls you to focus on first
…that is what Jesus is getting at.
It is so easy for us to lose focus on what God calls us to in this life, it is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking about our own comfort (bread) because of all of the pressures (yeast) of our culture. Jesus reminds us that He is good enough to be trusted with our lives, so we should be on guard for anything that wants to remove our focus from Him.
Category: By Aaron
Created on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:26
Written by Aaron
we started a new series, which is actually part two of a series we did last year, called What in the World
. In this part of the series, I’ll be addressing questions you still had about the Bible. Someone asked about Abraham and Isaac, both patriarchs of the Hebrews’ faith in God, lying about their wives being their sisters and God still blessing them in the end. I got around to the point that the question understands God, blessing, and righteousness incorrectly, because God cannot and does not only bless “good” people because (technically) there aren’t any. God must take bad people and change them, redeem them, and restore them.
I emphasized that we
are evil and God Himself is the one that is good. I had a couple people ask me about why I say we are evil…and ask if I was overstating our condition. The short answer is “no,” I am not overstating my case. I also believe that unless we can come to understand the true heinousness of the sinful nature in us, we will forever have a losing battle between pride and humbleness thinking that we are “not that bad.” Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
We always want to compare ourselves to others, and when we hear the word “evil,” we tend to think of child molesters or the Geoffrey Dahmers of the world. 2 Corinthian 10:12 But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
We want to compare ourselves to others or our own standard and conclude we aren’t “that bad,” but the only
person we truly should compare ourselves to is Jesus. When we see ourselves in light of His goodness, we are evil. In The Grace and Truth Paradox
, Randy Alcorn says this: “I’d imagined the distance between Dodd (a child molester and murderer) and me as the difference between the South and North poles. But when you consider God’s viewpoint from light-years away, that distance is negligible. In my standing before a holy God apart from Christ…I am Dodd…Unless we come to grips with the fact that we’re of precisely the same stock—fallen humanity—as Dodd and Hitler and Stalin, we’ll never appreciate Christ’s grace.” Human standards of morality have been proven to waver over the course of history, and yet God’s standard of absolute perfection has never changed.
The Hebrew word for evil (ra
) is bigger than just “sin.” Evil comes from a root that meant “to spoil” or to break in pieces, like a vase that falls on the floor. It conveys the idea of something that was once priceless being made worthless. The definition of evil is what the human race has become because of sin. Some people have a hard time even coming to the grips with the fact that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23). If we have sinned, then we are broken (no longer priceless, and just like everyone else in the world). If we are broken, that means we need someone to mend us, save us, and restore us again.
Evil is also defined as what is unpleasant, disagreeable, and offensive. Have you ever been disagreeable or offensive? (If you are married, just ask your spouse.) One Bible dictionary says that the word evil “binds together the evil deed and its consequences.” In the New Testament, the words for evil are kakos
and they mean, respectively, the quality of evil in its essential character…but they can also mean its hurtful effects or influence. The Bible dictionary I quoted above states, “Much physical evil is due to moral evil: suffering and sin are not necessarily connected in individual cases, but human selfishness and sin explain much of the world’s ills.”
If we become a people who think our sin (past, present, and future) is not evil because it’s not as bad as someone like Geoffery Dahmer, we will diminish the glorious triumph of the cross of Christ. When we don’t take our own sin that seriously, we will begin to wonder why God finds it so offensive. When we don’t see the depth of our own pride and how it leads us into self-centered thinking that justifies its own depravity, we will judge others who we don’t think are put together as well as we are. When we think we are “not that bad,” we will wonder why God could ever bless someone else when they have been caught in a lie or sin, because we
deem them to be unworthy. We will look around us and begin to make our own delineation of good and evil that elevates our own judgment above God’s, and question why God would even save sinners (meaning everyone else). We will become the Pharisees Jesus so harshly criticized for their hypocrisy.
Evil is real and it has a name…its name is Aaron (that’s me)….and its name is _________ (your name here). Why did God bless Abraham and Isaac when they lied? God only and always blesses messed up people because of the grace He lavishes upon us, as unworthy and evil as we are. He alone is good and transforms us into His loved children…taking something broken, and restoring it into something beautiful. The beauty of understanding the cross and grace is understanding the truth about ourselves Romans 3:22-24 “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”…
this is true, but the Scriptures do not end there. Paul goes on to say, “…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
We are blessed, restored, redeemed, and saved because our God is good. None of these truths, however, can be properly appreciated without a sobering understanding of sin.
Created on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 10:31
Written by Michael Reed
Last night I babysat a couple of boys from our church so his dad could attend our Redemption Group session. Towards the end of the night, as they were getting tired, we put in a DVD that they wanted to watch: SpongeBob.
We watched Jellyfish Hunter
, and a scene caught my attention. You can see it here, watch from minute 2:29 to 4:13:
(Sorry for Copyright reasons I can't find a good version to embed directly.)
What follows in the blog may seem like a stretch, but go with me here.
What happens in this scene is that the sponge has something incredibly good. He can’t help himself but to make noises of delight while he eats his Krusty burger that has been modified with Jellyfish Jelly. The other fish, I’ll call him Steve, notices and asks SpongeBob for a taste. Upon experiencing what I could only describe as a “life altering burger,” he cries out, “Amazing. I’ve got to tell someone about this.” Then he breaks out into a song starting with, “Hey all you people!”
He goes on to recap his experience with this life altering burger. Then he passes the “Jellyfish Jelly” out to everyone saying, “You’ve got to try this… it’s no ordinary sandwich… it’s the tastiest sandwich in the whole sea!”
In the cartoon the story moves on to show how evil capitalism is, which is an odd turn for a cartoon that makes its money from capitalism. But I marveled at that scene I described above. It’s amazing that Steve had this encounter with something “more,” something “better.” He was already eating a burger, but didn’t know what he was missing. After this experience, he had to share it. Had to tell others of the good news of the Jellyfish Jelly Burger.
I marveled because this is how the Gospel should be shared. No, not in song, but in the joy of being shared. The Gospel means Good News
, and news is an announcement. It takes words (or song, I guess) to tell others about it. We are to be a people who have experienced the ultimate goodness of God’s grace: that because of Christ’s work on the cross in defeating death and sin, we can be adopted as God’s children. From the beginning of time, God has been on a rescue mission to save His rebellious creation and bring restoration so we can stand in full righteousness with our Creator.
And it’s free! There is nothing we can do to earn this, it is God’s doing and we get to be benefactors of His great work!
I wondered why my excitement for the Good News of Jesus Christ doesn’t come close to Steve’s love for the Jellyfish Jelly Burger. I’m not saying we go around singing and pushing bibles in people’s faces, but that we live in a way that we look for opportunites to share the good news of what Christ has done, that there's something better way to live than how people are living. There’s no better news and nothing more worth sharing.
The Psalmist says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Taste and see.
A few weeks ago, Aaron talked about how when good fresh wine is opened, there should be a natural tendency to share that with others so they can enjoy the good tasting wine as well (Listen/Watch here).
So here are two metaphors for you.
Taste the good wine
Taste Jellyfish Jelly burger
Then go and share the good news of what you have tasted with others!
Category: Element Global
Created on Tuesday, 11 April 2017 10:01
Written by Element Christian Church
Created on Tuesday, 21 March 2017 11:47
Written by Michelle Gee
I hope you all know how much I love Element and our Sunday gatherings, but occasionally, one of my favorite things to do is attend another church’s service. It’s always a tangible reminder of how diverse the Church is, and how beautiful it can be to see traditions expressed in such different ways.
Before I go on any further, I want to clarify that is blog post is NOT an indictment of another particular congregation I recently visited. There is so much division within the Church, and the last thing I want to do is throw stones at a body of believers—especially since my perceptions are based off only a single service I attended. However, I do think it is important for believers to critically engage any local church they attend, and to continually discern the truth in what we hear. If anything, this post is an assertion of the Gospel, and a reminder of why it is so important to preach Christ crucified in all that we do.
The church my husband Jon and I visited is geared toward the recovery community. It was a wonderful sight to behold how well they have managed to reach that specific subculture. In many ways, I saw elements of a good missional strategy—understanding the needs of the community, adopting the language of that subculture, etc. We were met by a warm and vibrant group of people, and were quickly welcomed in.
Throughout the service, however, I felt increasingly uneasy at what I was hearing. The lyrical content of the songs we sang together, while uplifting, was vague in their focus of worship. Communion was likened to having “the best conversation you can remember, where you felt completely safe and heard.” The message mainly consisted of the pastor’s argument that theology is not so important as much as practice, and that we all must develop our own personal theology.
Now, I do believe there is some truth to what the pastor said. In communion, we are reminded of the safe, intimate access we have to God, where we are fully known and heard. When it comes to theology, it is true that little will be transformative if it hasn’t taken root in our hearts and actions. However, what left the message feeling so hollow to me was the omission of what all these truths hinge on: the Gospel.
The Gospel is the good news that Jesus has defeated Satan, sin, and death, and is making all things new—even us! This good news, or story, is rooted in the actual historical event of Jesus’ death and resurrection—a singular event we can point to as proof of Christ’s work, and the ultimate expression of His love for us. I’m saddened to say that none of this was mentioned throughout the service we attended. It is because
of Christ’s victory over sin that we can feel safe and heard. Jesus tells us that in communion, his blood is “of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). While we may often hear of “God’s love,” we can know as believers His love is not some vague feeling, but demonstrated through an action that has already occurred. We can be absolutely assured of His commitment to us, because the Cross happened.
Regarding theology, while it is Jesus and not theology that saves us, it is important to understand the practical role of theology in our lives. As one of my professors used to say, “Right theology leads to right worship.” As we continually grapple with the ideas of who God is, we gain clarity, and can more accurately convey who He is to others. While I did agree with this pastor that Judaism is a religion that focuses more on orthopraxy (“right practice”) rather than orthodoxy (“right belief”), it’s a stretch to say Jesus didn’t emphasize theology. We are studying right now in our current sermon series at Element, Jesus consistently asserts His authority as the Messiah. Jesus claims that He alone is God and able to forgive sins. He makes controversial, exclusive statements about exactly who He is—separating the truth from lies.
In a way, I’m thankful for the experience of visiting this church, because it reminded me of how powerful the Gospel message is. Likewise, I was reminded of how mediocre our “good news” can sound when we fail to tell the whole story of Christ’s redemption. As Romans 1:16 says, “…I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” As we near Resurrection Sunday, let’s remember that every good thing we are free to experience in Christ hinges on the Cross, and as Paul said, “preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
Category: By Aaron
Created on Tuesday, 29 November -0001 16:00
Written by Aaron
I had a friend of mine proof read last week’s blog,
when done they said it reminded them of this modern hymn written by Ruth Duck. I thought I would share it with all of you as well, enjoy:
Moved by the Gospel, let us move with every gift and art.
The image of creative love indwells each human heart.
The Maker calls creation good, so let us now express
with sound and color, stone and wood,
the shape of holiness.
Let weavers form from broken strands a tapestry of prayer.
Let artists paint with skillful hands their joy in lament and care,
Then mime the story: Christ has come;
With reverence dance the Word.
With flute and organ, chime and drum, God’s praise be ever heard.
O Spirit, breathe among us here, inspire the work we do.
May hands and voices, eye and ear attest to life made new.
In worship and in daily strife create among us still.
Great Artist form our common life according to Your will.
Category: By Aaron
Created on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 11:16
Written by Aaron
I think I am a bad Christian. I was reading a recent survey about movies made in 2016, and “who had seen what” over the course of the year. The Barna article stated, “Evangelicals were much less likely to view some of the other favorites among the general population including Deadpool
(20% compared to 37% among all adults), Suicide Squad
(13% compared to 24% among all adults), X-Men: Apocalypse
(9% compared to 26% among all adults) and Batman vs Superman
(20% compared to 31% among all adults).” What does it say about me that I have seen ALL of those movies listed as “less likely” to be viewed by Christians?
The article then says, “They (Christians) also watched Miracles from Heaven
(21% vs. 9% among all adults) more than the general population.” Is it bad that I did not see this movie, and had never even heard of it prior to this article?
This is the problem we have today of labeling things “Christian” and “worldly.” When someone with any authority slaps a label on something and calls it “Christian,” many Christians begin to blindly consume whatever that thing is. I read a book about the “Christian” music industry a couple of years ago where the author lamented the fact that many “Christian” bands aren’t really Christians; it is simply a market in which they can easily make money.
Back in our Genesis series, I mentioned this kind of labeling is a result of chapter 3 (the fall), and not Genesis chapters 1-2 (God’s perfect vision of life and peace). All truth and beauty come from God’s gracious hand, and when we try to label art (in any form) as “safe for consumption,” we will always fail—we are trying to validate something that wasn’t intended to be validated.
When God blessed the world, He already validated it, and His voice and opinion are the ones that truly matter. I believe a Christian subculture can be dangerous with its own (often inferior) versions of coffee, stickers, paintings, and movies, because there are some people who will blindly accept it based on the label, who won’t critically think about whether it truly glorifies God. Believe it or not, there are things in our world that scream of truth and beauty and life and holiness that do not
come from an approved Christian subculture…and there are dark and ugly things that have nothing
to do with Jesus that do come from an approved Christian subculture.
As followers of Jesus, we must begin to ask the question about what we consume with our minds: “Does this reflect the harmony and beauty of God's peace?” I am not saying all the movies I have seen this year reflect God’s peace, but I also think it is amazing that God’s truth often shows up in the least expected places. There are many artists telling compelling stories that we should engage with—stories that tell the truth and grace of God in practical ways. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings
To live on mission means to share the blessing of the Gospel, and this means making it known to the world in ways that speak to people exactly where they are. That means we must be aware of our speech, our actions, and our entertainment in ways that see the broader picture of truth and beauty. We must be able to engage in conversation with people in the beginning of their journey, not the end. We must always live in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus, but also take that truth into the common places of our world in words, art, and music that make sense in the midst of people’s struggles.
May we become a people who can appreciate beauty where we see it and glorify God in the midst of it.
Category: By Aaron
Created on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 09:28
Written by Aaron
I recently read an article about pastors and what causes (or can cause) burnout. One of the largest causes of burnout is division within a church’s eldership. At Element, we believe the word “elder” is synonymous with the word “pastor”; as a result, Element’s eldership is very small—currently only three people. If you were to count all the people Element has had as elders (including those who have moved away), our total would be a whopping five people.
You can go to the “Who We Are
” page of our website and see our list of current staff and elders (myself, Eric, and Mike), but this doesn’t show you Tom Holmquist (Montana or bust) or Jonathan Whitaker (who occasionally teaches when he is back in California or writes a blog when he is feeling whimsical).
The article I read showed that if a church has a power struggle among the Elders, the burnout risk is four times as high! If the Elders have a bad relationship with one another, the risk is almost five times as likely. Yet, when the Elders act in a singular vision, burnout is nearly cut in half
. Praying together also has the effect of cutting the risk of burnout in half.
I tell you this because the Eldership at Element is on the same page in what we hope Jesus would do in all of our lives. We want to see Jesus high and exalted (above ourselves), redemption understood in how Element functions and teaches, and true worship lived out in everything we do as a church body. We believe the Gospel is practical and speaks to every part of our lives. I feel blessed to serve with the Elders at Element.
In the coming months, Element will be entering a new phase of life. Our lease in our current building will be ending and we will be moving. In the midst of this transition, I want you to know that our vision hasn’t changed (although, it may have become more refined over time). Your Elders want to see Jesus proclaimed in all we do—no matter where we are. It is humbling and exciting, and I hope you share in those feelings as well.
1 Peter 5:1-2 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory
We serve under our great Head Shepherd, Jesus. It is an honor and privilege to lead and serve Element as a church body, especially because we can trust Jesus in where He leads us.